timely estimates of deaths associated with the COVID-19 pandemic is critical to
provide policymakers and the public with an accurate picture of severity.
However, official tallies of deaths likely represent an undercount, due to
variations in practices for recording causes of death, lack of testing, and
delays in reporting. Evaluating changes in rates of death due to any cause can
provide a more complete picture of the severity of the pandemic. We have
analyzed state-level data from the United States since March 1, 2020 to
evaluate increases in deaths due to any cause and deaths due to pneumonia,
compared to data from previous years. We use a regression model that adjusts
for seasonality, year-to-year variations in incidence, influenza activity, and
reporting delays to obtain an estimate for how many deaths would have been
reported in a typical year. In most states, the number of excess deaths exceeds
the number of reported deaths; the magnitude of the discrepancy between
reported deaths and excess deaths varied by state and declined over time and
was partially related to variations in the intensity of testing.